Intermittent fasting is more popular now than ever because the many health benefits that have been proven countless times. Intermittent fasting, while not appropriate in every case, has the power to help you lose weight, but it also can aid and promote good health in many other ways.
There have been many studies that support the various benefits of intermittent fasting and, of course, many books written on the subject, like the book The Fast Diet, by Dr. Michael Mosley and journalist Mimi Spencer; the book The 5:2 Diet by Kate Harrison’s, and Dr. Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code.
For me, intermittent fasting alone wasn’t enough to promote lose weight, though I did start feeling better than I had in years. Limiting my eating window to between 11am and 7pm, paired with a low-carb diet, was the combination that really got things rolling.
I was able to lose 50 pounds in 6 months, get rid of persistent heartburn, reverse sleep apnea, and feel immensely better. It was like the struggle was finally over and my body was able to cooperate with my efforts rather than fight to maintain.
If you are considering intermittent fasting, it’s important to know why it is so effective for weight loss and better health. So in this article we’ll give you the top 5 reasons why intermittent fasting works.
Why Start Intermittent Fasting
1. It Helps Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is one of the major contributing factors to heart problems and other health issues, such as Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases. So keeping inflammation to a minimum is very important to your overal health.
There have been several studies that show intermittent fasting can really help reduce the amount of inflammation in the body. In a study published in Cell, Mount Sinai researchers found that “short-term fasting reduced monocyte metabolic and inflammatory activity and drastically reduced the number of circulating monocytes.”
Reducing the period of time that you are consuming food also helps to reduce the amount of inflammation in your body. The reason for this was examined in the Mount Sinai study. “They discovered that intermittent fasting kick-started the release of ‘monocytes’, a collection of pro-inflammatory cells. During fasting periods these cells go into sleep mode and are less inflammatory than the cells that had been fed.”
In an article in the International Journal of Health Sciences, Salah Mesalhy Aly, Ph.D. cites multiple studies showing that “Intermittent fasting, in which individuals fast on consecutive or alternate days, has been reported to facilitate weight loss preventing the progression of type 2 diabetes and consequently improve cardiovascular risk.”
2. Intermittent Fasting Helps Trigger Ketosis to Burn Fat
Ketosis is the process where your body starts to burn stored fat for energy rather than the sugars from the food you eat. A number of diets, like the ketogenic diet, help trigger ketosis, but intermittent fasting also helps you enter ketosis quicker.
Most people consume a lot of carbohydrates in their diet which produce a large glucose source for energy. If you eat continuously through the day when you are awake, then your body will have an ample supply of glucose to get its energy from.
This means that your body will never go into a state of ketosis and start burning fat for energy. If you are constantly providing your body with glucose, it will be much more difficult to lose weight.
According to a Harvard School of Public Health article, “A systematic review of 40 studies found that intermittent fasting was effective for weight loss, with a typical loss of 7-11 pounds over 10 weeks.”
Fasting helps your body become depleted of glucose so you begin to process fuel sources different and repair damage to cells that affect your metabolism. Keep in mind that intermittent fasting followed by the consumption of high carbohydrates will not help you trigger ketosis.
3. Blood Sugar Stabilization
When you eat food, especially foods high in carbohydrates, the amount of blood sugar in your blood stream increases. This tells your body to release insulin, which travels round your blood stream hovering up the sugar in your blood. However, if you’ve become insulin resistant, the insulin isn’t able to properly do its job, which results in high blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar can be very dangerous, even toxic, to your body, and if left untreated, it can lead to all kinds of problems, not the least of which is type 2 diabetes.
Many factors contribute to insulin resistance, though numerous studies have shown that high amounts so free-fatty acids – an increased level of fat in your blood – can cause cells to stop responding to insulin.
Intermittent fasting has been proven to stabilize blood sugar levels. Research has shown that time-restricted eating can improve glucose control in men at risk for type 2 diabetes. And while more research needs to be done to full understand this, it’s definitely possible that trying intermittent fasting might help you blood sugar stabilization.
4. Appetite reduction
For me, intermittent fasting helped dramatically with appetite reduction. It sounds counterintuitive that if you eat less often, you’ll be less hungry, but it definitely worked that way for me.
I used to have strong hunger pains early in the morning and anytime I didn’t eat lunch of dinner on time. After a few weeks of intermittent fasting, I was easily able to make it to 2pm without eating anything in the morning.
Once you get used to intermittent fasting you will notice that you experience a reduction in your appetite. Your body gets accustomed to receiving less food than it normally does and it adjusts accordingly.
If you’re struggling with hunger and overeating, this can be a huge benefit that will help you control your hunger and cut down on the amount of food you consume.
5. It Increases Energy
When you eat plenty of carbohydrates during the day, your body is constantly processing the glucose by burning it an storing it for later use. This process has your metabolism constantly cycling and your blood sugar always fluctuating. This can lead to many periods of highs and lows throughout the day.
It’s why you might feel a huge energy slump an hour or so after a big lunch. Your body will also experience a blood sugar slump that will sap your energy.
Many studies have shown that intermittent fasting increases energy levels by cutting down on the amount of times your body has to process carbs. Combined with a low-carb diet, this can be very beneficial in that your body will start to use fat for fuel and will bypass the ups and downs of blood sugar fluctuations.
How To Be Successful With Intermittent Fasting
It’s true that intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. You may not be able to find a plan that works for you. But there are a number of things that you can do to maximize your chances of success with intermittent fasting.
Too many people give up because they are not prepared for the challenges that intermittent fasting brings. You need to anticipate these challenges and have a plan for dealing with them.
Intermittent fasting is not easy so you will need all the help you can get. The first two weeks or so will be the hardest and it is essential that you keep press on through this period. You should find that after this everything becomes a lot easier.
Here are a few helpful tips for getting through the first two weeks of intermittent fasting:
Set a Goal
What is your goal with intermittent fasting? How much weight do you want to lose and by when? Without a goal you will just approach intermittent fasting aimlessly which will not improve your chances of success.
Envision Your Reason
Think about the real reason why you’re doing this. This needs to be something emotional and totally honest. You do not have to share this reason with others. The point here is that this real reason will act as inspiration for you to succeed.
Combine it With a Low-Carb or Keto Diet
You will get much better results with your intermittent fasting if you also restrict your carbohydrate intake. A low-carb or keto diet is perfect for maximizing your results with an intermittent fasting window.
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